Warning Signs for Biden: Focus Group Demonstrates Why Wisconsin Is in Play

Posted: Sep 04, 2020 12:01 PM

On my radio show yesterday, Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson -- who was wrongly written off as a surefire loser four years ago, based on polls that turned out to be off by around six points -- said he believes the presidential race in his state is a tossup. The latest RealClearPolitics average of the contest in the Badger state gives former Vice President Joe Biden a four-point lead, boosted by a new Fox News survey showing the Democrat ahead by eight points.

President Trump visited the state on Tuesday to look at the damage of four nights of rioting last week in the small city of Kenosha. Wisconsin's Democratic governor failed to take decisive action to stop the destruction until after people were killed, turning down federal help and deploying far fewer resources than local officials had requested, then urged Trump not to visit to survey the wreckage of their failures. Joe Biden's campaign, after reportedly deciding against a Kenosha visit and criticizing the president's appearance, is sending their candidate there today. On the issue of street violence and chaos, they're playing catch-up. Again. Axios is reporting on a recent Wisconsin focus group of swing voters, mostly comprised of Obama-to-Trump voters. Their comments underscore why Trump remains competitive:

Some voters in Wisconsin say they feel Joe Biden cares less about them and their concerns than about the people protesting systemic racism...Just two of the 10 participants in this week's session said they'll vote for Biden, including one Obama-to-Trump voter who no longer supports the president. Several hadn't watched either party's nominating convention and six of the 10 wrongly believed Biden wants to defund police. The economy was a pervasive concern..."Anybody who believes there's systemic racism is going to vote for Joe Biden, and he wants you to believe there's systemic racism," said Thomas B., who's sticking with Trump. Jessica B. said she's worried about "all this pointless violence . . . spreading to my home."...Even those who said they've lost faith in the president's leadership since January don't blame him for things going awry with the pandemic — and if anything are frustrated that he has yielded to the extent that he has.

To be clear, Joe Biden does not support abolishing or zeroing out funding for the police, but he has answered in the affirmative ("yes, absolutely") that he believes some police funding should be redirected elsewhere -- an unpopular idea that mirrors how many "defund the police" supporters have described their goal. And after Kenosha, the Biden campaign is obviously concerned about how many "Jessica B's" there are out there, which is why they pulled an about-face on their rhetorical approach to rioting and looting. It's also why they're plowing $45 million into a new ad campaign seeking to make the Democrat seem tough on street violence, which they're trying to blame on President Trump, whose efforts to quell mayhem has been resisted and blocked by state and local Democrats around the country. Here's a new ad Team Trump is running in the state, with a similar spot up in Minnesota:

Another major finding from the focus group is that, unsurprisingly, "the economy was a pervasive concern." On that front, the US has a long way to go, but it has fared better than nearly all of Europe in the last economic quarter, and there are some glimmers of continued recovery:

Democrats are trying to blame the president for the economic disaster inflicted by COVID without acknowledging America's relatively strong economic recovery, and while glossing over their own support for harsher lockdowns and restrictions (which people like Nancy Pelosi ignore) that would have hampered the recovery. I'll leave you with another encouraging trajectory:

Also, on our fiscal health, this is an ongoing bipartisan failure that is only getting worse.